Travel photographers are always trying to minimise their gear. Large format cameras made way to medium format, and they in turn made way to the 35mm for its ease of use and compact size.
Today we are searching for the best mirrorless camera for travel that money can buy. We will look at three different models, to fit all budgets.
Mirrorless cameras are the latest development in digital photography. DSLRs work by using a mirror to switch between viewing a scene and photographing it. The mirror flips up and lets the light hit the digital sensor.
With the mirrorless systems, the mirror is gone. This has several advantages over DSLR cameras.
Firstly, the cameras can be smaller and lighter since the large mirror is removed. Secondly, the cameras are quieter due to the lack of the mirror flick up sound. This is great for candid shots, allowing you to photograph subjects faster.
And they have all the other familiar functions, such as shooting in RAW, and being able to change lenses.
What makes the mirrorless systems great for travel photography? Well, not every mirrorless camera is great for travel. There are things you will need to look out for when choosing the best mirrorless camera.
Sensor size won’t be important for beginners. But many professionals need a bigger sensor, capturing a higher quality image.
Weight and size are also important, as you will be taking this camera with you, traipsing around the globe. A lighter camera means you are more likely to take it with you, capturing more images.
Versatility allows you to shoot different scenarios, from landscapes to night photography. So an array of lenses might be needed.
A weather sealed camera can help with harsh weather conditions. Durability will be a factor in faraway destinations.
Mirrorless systems are the modern, on-the-go choice for serious and amateur travel photographers alike.
[ExpertPhotography is supported by readers. Product links on ExpertPhotography are referral links. If you use one of these and buy something we make a little bit of money. Need more info? See how it all works here.]
Budget: Sony A5100
The Sony A5100 came out way back in 2014. But don’t let that fool you. This camera is a great power hitter in a small package and it won’t break the bank. It’s lightweight, compact but with advanced features. The image quality is through the roof, especially for a camera at this price.
Sony is well known throughout the photographic world for their remarkable mirrorless camera systems. The A5100 boasts a 24-Megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and Bionz image processor. The Auto Focus system is a hybrid with 25 contrast-detect and 179 phase-detect points.
It has subject-tracking and 6fps continuous shooting. This ensures you never miss that shot. The LCD screen tilts, and comes with 921,600 dots of resolution. On top of all this, the A5100 has WiFi with NFC capability. It is a beast of a camera.
The only downside is that Sony lenses are expensive.
Mid-Range: Fujifilm X-T2
As a mid-range to high-end camera, there is no better than the Fujifilm X-T2. Not only is it hugely popular for both amateurs and professionals, it has a huge array of lenses you can choose from. The best thing about this camera, which sets it apart from the other two, is that it has a full-frame sensor.
This means superb quality in your images.
This camera boasts a 24.3 Megapixel CMOS sensor. A 325 autofocus point system, half of which offer phase detection. This is a system that lets you capture crystal sharp images. It has a joystick, reminiscent of DSLR cameras, which offers fast manoeuvrability through settings and shots.
On top of this, you can photograph up to 100 fps in burst mode. Woah!
If that’s a little too much, the standard continuous Af will photograph 8fps. Or 5fps if you want live updates between captures. The dual card slots allow you to keep photographing when one card is full. This lets you change over the full one easily.
You should get this camera for its impressive autofocus and sensor size. Plus, the Fujifilm X-mount lenses are cheaper than other mirrorless systems.
High-End: Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II
There are so many fantastic cameras in the high-range budget that it is difficult to choose just one. It would have been easy to go for the Sony A7II or any Fujifilm choice here. But the Olympus is outstanding in this field.
Not only does it take fantastic shots of your travels, it can capture amazing video footage too. That is because it hosts 5-axis image stabilisation.
It is a 16-megapixel camera that follows the Olympus four-thirds sensor model. This means it is a little smaller than the other sensors, but it does allow you to use any Panasonic Lumix lenses with this body.
It also means that the lenses come in at an x2 focal length, allowing you to get closer to a subject without having to move.
The 40-Megapixel multi-exposure mode allows you to capture a huge panoramic image as the sensor inside moves for you. This isn’t the same as panning your camera every time to create the panorama manually. It has a whopping 10fps continuous shooting mode, 5fps if you want to autofocus as you shoot.
You can push it to 1/16000th of a second, really freezing those moments of fast-paced action. Great for the bull run in Pamplona.
All mirrorless cameras offer you great results in a low-weight and compact package. They also won’t break the bank, offer RAW shooting and versatility through the array of available lenses. Of course, you are limited to your budget, so if you can only grab the Sony A5100, it will still give you great results.
Our recommendation is the Fujifilm X-T2. The sensor size will give you the best quality images from the three selected. The autofocus system is so good, it gives DSLRs a run for their money. Some are even twice the price of this little monster.
The lenses are cheaper than the Sony system. No other camera will offer 100 fps, so if this is a requirement for your travel photography, this for you.
It looks serious when you need it, but also small enough that you can capture those candid street photography shots easily. If you can afford this, then go for it and don’t look back. If you can’t, the Sony will capture those memories for you in a timely, quiet fashion.